Honky Tonk Piano on YouTube.
Hi, welcome to an episode of “Thinking Inside the Box” on Noah’s Ark. In the video, we’re going to talk about how to create a vintage piano sound also commonly referred to as a “Honky Tonk” piano sound.
So let’s start with some background information. A piano is a stringed instrument where pressure on keys will cause hammers to hit the corresponding strings and generate mechanical vibrations. Most traditional pianos will have three strings tuned to the same pitch or frequency for a specific key.
However, these instruments are extremely sensitive to external conditions and over time they inevitably get out of tune. When these three strings become more and more distant in pitch from each other, the piano will start to manifest this vintage sound. This is where the name of Honky Tonk music comes from, where old pianos that were left in bars for a long time would become associated with boogie-woogie blues and country music.
Sometimes, this sound is so coveted that some well-known pianos such as the “Mrs Mills”, used on countless recordings by the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios, are deliberately tuned this way.
Now let’s talk technical. When two or more sound sources are producing the same frequency with slight variations in pitch over time, we can notice an added richness or depth to the sound. And this is a well-known time-based effect called chorus. The name derives from the actual richness in sound manifested by choruses where multiple performers would try to sing in unison but with slight inevitable pitch modulations.
To find out more about the Honky Tonk piano sound, you can watch the video above or on YouTube here.